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What Is Iridocyclitis?

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  • Written By: J. Leach
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 05 April 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Iridocyclitis is the inflammation of the iris and the ciliary body of the eye. The iris is the colored part of the eye. The ciliary body is the group of muscles and tissues that make fluid in the eye and control the movement that helps the eye focus. This condition is also known as uvetitis and iritis. It can be caused by the eye’s exposure to certain chemicals, different autoimmune disorders, or it can be a symptom of other infections like toxoplasmosis, syphilis, and herpes.

Uveitis is a broad category and is characterized by inflammation of either the entire eye or parts of the eye. Iridocyclitis typically affects only the front of the eye. An immune response to allergens or chemical irritants can cause acute iridocyclitis.

Nearly half of all cases classified as acute iridocyclitis are not associated with other, underlying medical problems. Such cases can appear suddenly and usually do not last longer than six weeks. If there is another existing condition, such as an infectious or autoimmune disease, that illness must be treated to prevent recurrences, or chronic iridocyclitis.

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The condition is usually marked by the reddening of the eye. While this coloration is a symptom, the eye is often not as red as it may be in someone with a common condition like conjunctivitis, or pink eye. The patient may also be very sensitive to light or experience photophobia, or fear of light. The eyes may water profusely and vision can become impaired or decrease drastically. Sometimes only one eye is affected, but shining a light into the seemingly unaffected eye can produce pain in the irritated eye.

Patients are often referred to an ophthalmologist by a physician in order to accurately diagnose the condition. If treatment is not sought, complications can result, like cataracts, glaucoma, permanent vision damage, and even blindness. It is important for the doctor to determine the root cause for uveitis, as the cause can dictate treatment. Iridocyclitis is usually treated with medications that reduce the pain and inflammation.

An immune disorder is often characterized as a condition that causes the body's immune system to attack its own tissues. People who suffer from autoimmune disorders, like lupus erythmematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and juvenile arthritis, can develop chronic iridocyclitis. This occurs because these diseases can affect the lining that covers the eye and other associated tissues.

Children who suffer juvenile arthritis are at particular risk for chronic iridocyclitis. Arthritis affects joints and the tissue that lines them. People with arthritis usually experience swelling, stiffness, and irritation of these tissues. This disease can spread throughout the body and, when it does, it can affect other body parts, like the eyes.

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